Remembering a Roy Burns drum clinic in Illinois. Probably Moline. I lived and played drums for a couple of years in the Quad-Cities area of Iowa. The Quad-Cities are Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa; Moline and Rock Island in Illinois. The Mississippi River separates the two states and cities.
There is a great deal of jazz history there. Drummer Louis Bellson was born, grew up, and is buried in Moline. Trumpeter Bix Beiderbecke grew up and is buried in Davenport. And, of course, the Mississippi River is legendary to the migration of jazz.
But on this day, in a music shop, Roy Burns is giving a drum clinic. I recall him saying that drummers rarely practice their short rolls (RLRL) and long rolls (RRLLRRLL) – but those two rolls are the root of all drum rudiments. Roy also told of an encounter with a legendary New York City drummer, Sam Ulano. Sam handed Roy a pair of square drumsticks he’d invented. Roy gave the sticks a try and, handing them back to Sam Ulano, said they felt like they’d tear up his hands. Then Roy asked why Sam thought square drumsticks were an improvement over round drumsticks.
“Because,” answered Sam, “when you place them on top of your bass drum they won’t roll off.”
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